Impact Of Indian Women On History & Culture

Google Arts & Culture is a new, immersive way to experience art, history, culture and world wonders from over a thousand organizations worldwide.

Throughout our country’s history, there have been many women — some familiar and others lesser-known — who were pioneers and pathbreakers, leaving their imprint on our shared heritage and culture. Pioneers of the past,present-day innovators, their impact on their era and on future generations, starting today, on Google Arts & Culture platform you can explore the narratives of some of these women on Women in India: Unheard Stories”, a collection of artworks and virtual exhibitions spanning 2,500 years from 26 cultural institutions across the country.

The special project will feature some of India’s iconic women and unsung heroines through history. From goddesses to leaders, artists and doctors, who strove for new horizons for their families — the collections reveal the many facets of women in India, and the impact they have  had on building and shaping the nation as it stands today.

Unveiling over 50 new virtual exhibitions with more than 1800 artworks, photographs and videos, the project highlights the contributions of women to India’s culture – and captures stories of India’s unsung heroines.

Visitors  can read immersive narratives about exemplars like Dr. Rakhmabai (the first practising woman doctor) and  Dr Muthulakshmi Reddi (the first woman legislator), featuring artworks by several young women artists. These narratives were put together in partnership with Zubaan Books, India’s first feminist publisher, and were built with the Google Arts & Culture platform’s virtual exhibit creator, a tool to put together rich narratives combining audio, video, maps, virtual tours and curatorial notes.

Speaking at the launch, Luisella Mazza, (head of operations, Google Cultural Institute), said, “This project is an effort to recognize the impact of Indian women in history and their impact on culture and while looking at where we are, we also wanted to look forward and inspire women and leaders of the future.  It is our ongoing effort to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations.”

Users can also tour historical exhibits that capture stories from as early as the 1st century BCE from the Indian Museum in Kolkata, on Saktirupena – on how the Mother Goddess has been depicted in Indian art across millennia. Additionally, there are 17 new virtual exhibits from the Centre for Art & Archaeology of the American Institute of Indian Studies. These are on diverse topics as warrior and goddess figures like Mahisasuramardini, Mohini and Hariti,  queens who have endowed culture, and how women have been represented  in art and sculpture over the ages across  India.

Through the lens of photography, the exhibit on Maharanis offers a peek at the enigmatic women of royal India, and their roles in history in the public and private spheres.

Some featured exhibits include Sacred Thread and Women (American Institute of Indian Studies).

As early as 550 CE, stone reliefs show the sacred thread, a marker of wisdom and knowledge, being bestowed on women. Incarnations of the goddess Parvati like the one from Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh (shown below) depict her wearing sacred thread, indicating her strength and knowledge at par with male gods.

Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum (Rekhta Foundation)

Learn about Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum, the erstwhile ruler of Bhopal, who defied convention and stereotypes in the 19th century, and left a legacy in infrastructure, architecture, arts and educatio showing her passion for creating opportunities for Hindu and Muslim girls to obtain an education.

Women During Partition: Rebuilding Lives (The 1947 Partition Archive)

In more recent history, explore the stories of young girls and women who went on to educate themselves and take responsibility for their families following Partition in 1947. You can also read moving memoirs of women volunteers who came forward to help people who had been displaced by Partition.

Nine Women Artists: From Sensual to Amorphous (Kiran Nadar Museum of Art)

The works of 9 contemporary women artists including Amrita Sher-gil, Anita Dube, Bharti Kher, Dayanita Singh, Ranjani Shettar, Sheba Chhachhi, Sheela Gowda and Mrinalini Mukherji and Nasreen Mohamedi give a perspective of the times they lived in.

Users can also explore gigapixel images captured by using the latest innovation,–The Art Camera – a robotic, custom-built camera that moves to capture hundreds of high resolution close-ups of the painting. It captures each brush stroke with consistent focus and once each detail is captured, software takes tthousands of close-up shots and, like a jigsaw, stitches the pieces together into one single image.